• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

'An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge' by Ambrose Bierce

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

'An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge' by Ambrose Bierce 'An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge' by Ambrose Bierce is a 19th Century mystery story that is set at the time of the American Civil War (1861-1865) when the Slave owning Confederate States in the South engaged in conflict with the Federal Government of the USA. The story focuses on a character called Peyton Farquhar, whom is about to be summarily hung for trespassing on the Owl Creek Bridge; his fate is to be hung from that same bridge. The story ends with a curious twist in the plot. The main part of the story is set in Farquhar's mind, though whilst reading the reader is unsure (despite careful, hidden hints placed by Bierce) of this fact. Only at the end when it is clearly stated that Farquhar is hanging lifelessly with a broken neck from the bridge that the reader will become conclusively aware of this. It is divided into three parts, which I will analyse, in detail, separately. Part I 'An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge' 'begins powerfully by introducing a man, whom is not named until later on in the tale. This obviously adds to the mystery. It describes with detail of him in somewhat a predicament ~ " hands behind his back", " wrists bounds with a cord", "rope closely encircled his neck". Words of such like are of a lexical set of entrapment and give the impression that the man in question is in danger and is unable to break free. ...read more.

Middle

This is the last action presented in sequence; we now retreat into the man's past. Part II Bierce finally reveals the identity of the condemned man in part II. He is Peyton Farquhar, "a well to do planter" from a "highly respectable family". By these descriptions, Bierce is gaining his readers trust of Farquhar, portraying him as a respectable civilian with his heart devoted to the cause of the South. Bierce forces the reader to feel that Farquhar is an innocent man being hung. Part II is a side story that reveals his part and purpose for being hung, making his character seem more realistic and allowing the reader to develop sincere feelings for him. The interlude at Farquhar's estate is both poignant and ironic. Farquhar imagines himself to be a soldier~ "was at heart a soldier" but describes himself to be "...humble (for him) to perform in the aid of the South" and "no adventure was too perilous (for him)". The reader will begin to associate these descriptions with the events in Part I. He accepts the brutal and lawless outlook of war~ "assented to at least a part of the frankly villainous dictum that all is fair in love and war", even as a Confederate soldier receives a drink from the "white hands" of his wife. It never occurs to him that others devoted to victory might actually deceive him. The solider tells Farquhar "any civilian caught interfering with the railroad, bridges (Owl Creek), tunnels or trains will be summarily hanged". ...read more.

Conclusion

alone. The heavens are unfamiliar to him; their secret is indeed malign. Bierce's description of Farquhar's extreme agonies " his neck was in pain", "his tongue was swollen" indicates to the reader that he is clearly dying, his tongue thrusting out from between his teeth as he is strangulated. From all of the above that I have discussed, Bierce give careful, hidden hints that the illusion that he writes is actually false. He purposely confuses his audience. The detailed description of how Farquhar broke free from being hung give the fleeting thought that he did not die. The ending of the story is the greatest example of an illusion that dramatically enhances the story~ " Ah, how beautiful she is! He springs forward with extended arms". Bierce lures the reader into thoughts of joy by remarking how beautiful the wife is. Suddenly, Bierce stops his complex illusions and proves that proves the prior Part III was not reality, set in the min of Farquhar~ "his body swung gently from side to side beneath the timbers of the Owl Creek Bridge. Conclusion Bierce has a unique style to pull the reader into the story. To name a few techniques, his complex illusions keep the audience in suspense, his detailed descriptions allow the reader to picture all aspects of the story and the dividing of the story into three separate parts help them to stay focused. These all work together to provide a compelling, inspiring and powerful story. 'An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge' is a great example how the mind can be deceptive. 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE War Poetry section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE War Poetry essays

  1. Dickinson's BECAUSE I COULD NOT STOP FOR DEATH

    of reality; that is, its ability to integrate them and treat them as if they were parts of the literary event. This simply reflects the fact that literature is language. But it is language used in a restricted way, language subservient to literariness, language with one major rule that overrides

  2. An Occurrence at Own Creek Bridge

    The setting to the story takes place in South Alabama in the mid 1860's. During this time, the political world was struggling with the American Civil War. Farquhar, who was a follower of the Confederacy, did what he had to do to help his cause by trying to toil with the Federal soldiers and their grounds.

  1. Death in Duke Street

    The old man, even though he is dying, is very relaxed about his unfortunate situation. It is almost as though he is accepting what will happen as he seems not to be in any pain and his eyes are fixed on the sky.

  2. Quarry Bank Mill in Styal differed widely from other textiles mills in the area

    Owen strongly opposed to the use of corporal or physical punishment, so in order to keep discipline at the New Lanark Mills; he devised his own unique system. He placed a small four-sided wooden block, known as a silent monitor.

  1. In her short story

    Gregory was made into a 'kind of shepherd' and was demoted to the care of farm hands. This again shows Preston's favouritism to the narrator. Preston said the death of Helen was 'all Gregory's fault.' He is being extremely unjust with this accusation and even more so when he 'owed

  2. With reference to the text, what elements of the pardoner's tale make it an ...

    "avarice" in the tale and his whole life is based on this. The Pardoner's whole life leads toward death because he is spiritually dead. He has no beliefs obvious to the listener and seems like an empty shell of human being only wanting one thing from life; money.

  1. Discuss how successfully does Liz Lockhead convey autobiographical detail in The Offering, The Prize ...

    It seems irrational yet has a certain resonance of truth. She uses humour "word-play" to create a break in the solemn mood of the poem. "...or stayed full stop. Some people in our class were stupid, full stop" This was probably the attitude of many of the teachers at that time.

  2. A fine line between fantasy and fiction.

    What crime? Bierce forces the reader to continue through curiosity. The author sets no preliminaries for the actions taking place. Bierce firmly plants the reader inside the story here. During Part One the author also shows intense time distortion. Literary critic Cathy Davidson states, "...it is a speculation on the

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work